Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City ordered a city-wide social distancing with strict restrictions on gatherings and the closure of some businesses and services in an effort to contain COVID-19 infections which rise sharply in recent days.
The directive issued on Sunday says the restrictions are in place for 15 days from 0:00 on Monday, May 31. Particularly in Go Vap and Thanh Loc wards in District 12, where many infections were detected, isolation is applied for each family and each neighborhood.
People in Vietnam’s most populous city are asked to gather no more than five people in public places and to keep a minimum distance of 2 meters in these places. In addition, they are also required to wear masks and take other pandemic prevention measures as well as limit going out if not absolutely necessary.
Most businesses and services are temporarily suspended under the new directive. Food and beverage businesses can operate but “absolutely not serve on-site, only serve the form of take-out and online ordering,” the directive said.
Religious ceremonies and festival activities at religious, belief and worship facilities are required to be “radically stopped,” according to the directive.
The city’s health authorities said most of the infections stemmed from members of an evangelical church in Go Vap District. A cluster of 40 cases belonging to the church has spread to 151 other cases, of which 104 cases are close contacts of church cases and 47 cases are second-round contacts, according to Tuoi Tre newspaper.
Go Vap District Police on Saturday prosecuted a criminal case for “spreading dangerous infectious diseases to people” related to the Renaissance Mission Church, saying that this group did not comply with regulations on prevention against the COVID-19 epidemic that has spread the disease to many people.
By Monday evening, the city had recorded 51 new suspected COVID-19 cases in the community, the HCM City Center for Disease Control (HCDC) said, according to Tuoi Tre. The total number of infections in the city from May 27 to now is 200.
Vietnam is currently grappling with a spike in infections since late April after successfully containing the coronavirus for most of last year. Most of the new infections were detected in Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, two provinces with many industrial zones with hundreds of thousands of workers.
Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long on Saturday announced that Vietnamese health authorities had detected a new variant of coronavirus that was bred from two variants of COVID-19 in India and the UK and spread rapidly through the air, which he said contributed to the spike in infections in recent weeks.